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Lower birth weights associated with vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy

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Lower birth weights associated with vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy

According to a study published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy affects baby’s weight at birth. This is the conclusion reached by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, after analyzing a sample of 2146 pregnant women. Senior author Lisa M. Bodnar, Ph.D., MPH, RD, assistant professor in Pitt’s Department of Epidemiology Public Health, said that this is one of the largest studies that analyses the vitamin D levels in pregnant women and the relationship with the child’s weight at birth.

Lower birth weights

Lead author Alison Gernand, Ph.D., MPH, RD, a postdoctoral associate in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, wanted to mention that vitamin D deficiency in early pregnancy leads to impaired fetal growth later in pregnancy. Also, it appears that low levels of vitamin D in the first trimester is correlated with 2-fold higher risk of growth restriction in utero. It is important to note that vitamin is deficient in people with darker skin. Researchers found that half of black women and 5% of white women in the U.S. have low levels of vitamin D.

 These conclusions were drawn after Dr. Gernand and her colleagues found that women who had vitamin D levels less than 37.5 nmol / L  had children with 46 grams less than their peers at birth. It must be said that study included only children born at term that is between 37 and 42 weeks. In addition, it was also found that women who had in the first trimester, that is during the first 14 weeks, low levels of vitamin D  had children with a lower  weight  for gestational age. These babies are called “small for gestational age. “

Vitamin D is a vitamin hormone and is one of the few vitamins that is formed in our body . Cholecaciferol or vitamin D is synthesized in the skin from cholesterol by sunlight. Therefore, vitamin D supplementation is recommended during the  cold season, when there is no sun. After being transported to the liver and then to the kidney, vitamin D becomes active, that is it may exercise its functions to stimulate calcium absorption. But besides the well-known role in phosphocalcic metabolism, it seems that vitamin D has also a role in immunity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc..

Apparently low levels of vitamin D leads to lower birth weights because it affects bone growth in children by preventing the absorption of calcium. It is also likely that  the hormone levels needed to produce fatty acids and glucose for fetal energy needs, are affected too.